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For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated by musicians and composers who might be classified as “obscure.”
The list of such artists (in any genre) is long but I will try to compile a list of the individuals that have impressed me.
Leopold Godowsky (1870-1938)- Polish virtuoso pianist and composer of some very knotty piano works. He was a renowned wit and his home both in New York and in Paris was the meeting place for many well known artists from Josef Hofmann to Maurice Ravel. Like many lesser known but worthwhile musicians his works may be an acquired taste but well worth cultivating.
Charles-Valentin Alkan (1813-1888)- Everything I said about Godowsky can be applied to Alkan. Except, of course, that Alkan was French and from an earlier era. Alkan was a close friend of Chopin.
Alkan was also a prodigy who achieved early fame but would retreat to seclusion in his early thirties. He did not perform again until very late in his life though he did compose the entire time. His compositions were “rediscovered” by pianist Raymond Lewenthal and others in the 1960’s and Alkan’s music has since been recorded with some regularity.
Alkan was a Talmudic scholar and the tale of his death has become legendary. It is said that he met his Maker while reaching for a volume of the Takmud from a high shelf and the bookcase toppled on him.
I have always that thought that the legend of Sisyphus was an apt metaphor for all human endeavors especially creative ones.
For those unfamiliar, Sisyphus is a character from Greek mythology who was doomed to push a boulder up a steep hill for eternity only to see it roll back down and therefore begin the frustratingly futile and laborious process all over again.
One week ago I came up with this rough draft of a poem while on my daily jog. Though I have primarily written only instrumental music the past few years I fully intend to find a proper musical setting for this idea.
To my way of thinking it presents a nice twist to the tale if Sisyphus accepts his predicament with a sort of Zen-like calm and embraces his fate. This twist is what the title derives from.
After all, this is what we all must inevitably do or at least should do.
Push, push, push…
Seems you are just pushing all of your days,
Head down, shoulders squared
through every chapter, stage, and phase.
“Some day soon,” you tell yourself
You’ll stand atop high ground
and survey the scene with proud content and
as you look around.
You’ll cast your gaze on everything that stretches out for miles
and while the sun breaks through the clouds the weary…
reynold d. philipsek
(written and performed by Reynold D. Philipsek)
Just a little dab of flotsam and jetsam I concocted in the laboratory for Halloween.
These little funk riffs have been laying around in my “attic” for many years. Now I have finally found a final resting place for them.
I first “unearthed” these riffs in my late teens only to “reanimate” them and “stitch” them together at this time for this purpose.
To quote from James Whale’s 1931 classic film of Frankenstein, “It’s Alive!” I now can say the same about these long dormant musical ideas.
Wishing you all a very Happy Halloween. Stay safe, everyone and have a great night.
We’re very excited to announce that A Life Well Played has recently won 1st place in the Documentary Short category at the Highway 61 Film Festival. Located in Pine City, Minnesota, the multi-day event has taken place every October since 2011.
For those of you who may want to make the trip to Pine City to attend the festival and catch a viewing of the movie, here are the details.
A Life Well Played will be showing:
When: Sunday, October 9, program begins at 5:30 p.m. A Life Well Played will screen after 7pm.
Where: Pine Technical and Community College
900 Fourth Street SE, Pine City, MN 55063
Here is Sunday evening’s schedule:
Sunday, October 9, program begins at 5:30 p.m.
Letter to My Son
Director: Maurice Hicks • Drama Short • North Carolina • 10 min
A tired and worn would-be father pens a hypothetical detailing his perspectives and fears to his unborn son.
Director: Wyatt Cagle • Drama Short – First Place 2016 • Texas • 30 min
During a race riot in Beaumont, Texas in June 1943, worlds collide at a roadblock. Tensions explode on that hot summer night, forcing all involved to make decisions that will question their morals and loyalty.
Voices From Kaw Thoo Lei
Director: Martha Gorzycki • Made in Minnesota • 11 min
The Karen People of Burma, many of whom now live in Minnesota, believe no one hears their pleas for help as their country remains ravaged by a war that has lasted more than six decades.
The Hindu Thread
Director: Jennifer Higgins • Animation • Milwaukee • 3 min
One of the things that makes us human is our ability to tell stories. Eugene Burger narrates the Hindu creation myth. Brahma creates, Vishnu sustains, and Shiva destroys, but that is not the end.
Reclaiming Sacred Tobacco
Director: Leya Hale • Made in Minnesota • St. Paul • 27 min
Minnesotan American Indian communities are reclaiming traditional practices around Sacred Tobacco while educating their people on the growth of commercial tobacco’s frequent use in sacred traditions in order to untangle the two and promote a healthy lifestyle for future generations.
Director: Jeffrey Blake Palmer • Drama Short • Boston •24 min
Two young women from disparate backgrounds share a ride to western Massachusetts. A story of unexpected friends navigating life’s bumpy roads and moving forward with hope.
A Life Well Played
Director: Rene Erickson • Documentary Short – First Place 2016 • Inver Grove Heights • 30 min
What would it be like to do exactly what you wanted with your life? Explore the life, music and motivation of eclectic guitarist and prolific composer Reynold Philipsek in this documentary portrait.
The Festival itself runs Thursday, October 6th through Sunday, October 9th, 2016. There are plenty of other great films to check out, too. Click here for a full list of scheduled films, along with when and where they’ll be playing.
Hope to see you there.